SAN RAMÓN: This was also a one-roomed school but that room happened to resemble something of an attic.  It was a room, certainly, but it opened up into the rafters.  Our band took up the entire floor, so the audience sort of draped themselves over staircases and wooden beams going every which way.  It was actually very pretty.  Unfortunately pigeons generally accompany rafters – makes for good brooding nests – so I got the shock of my life when they squawked during the conducting master class.  I did not get pooped on.

It was here that I taught a very adorable 10 year old named Kimberly.  It was only then that I realized I had met quite a number of female Costa Ricans with white people names but absolutely no such males.  At any rate, she made my heart melt even though she laughed at my Spanish.

On the other hand, one of the conductors of the school thought I was actually South American.  As far as I am keeping record, this is the third person on this trip who has thought so (the immigrations officer, one of the Costa Ricans traveling with us, and this guy).  I am flattered I suppose.  He later found me, unexpectedly, in the back corner of the rafters, packing up my flute, and gave me his business card.  I have no idea what to write to a Costa Rican conductor, but I will add it to my growing pile of business cards from strangers.

And finally this was probably the worst day of the week for me.  Totally congested, eyes watering, shivering and shivering and shivering.  Already we had our oboe player sitting out – I was not about to let that happen to me.

PUNTARENAS: literally means sand point.  So yes, it is a beach.  We had some hours beforehand to go explore and the tenor sax player and I found an intact sand dollar, crabs, and an entire fish head.  It was very gross especially because I thought it was a piece of coral at first.  Other people spotted jellyfish and a clam with its own defenses: fang-like structures.

The school was quite poor and reminded me completely of Poas, from two years ago.  It was the first open air school of the trip, with rooms that flanked one side of the main floor space.  Despite how poor the school was, they still offered us a snack (like every other school, I should mention).  I am not at all sure of how this happens but I am very grateful for it.  It was at Puntarenas that I discovered JUGO.  The juice they have here is I think just fruit in a juice press.  It is completely real, completely genuine, and with a flavor I’ve very rarely had in a juice.

CÓBANO:  Cóbano is located across the sea from Puntarenas.  You can catch a ferry for less than $2 (if you are a person.  More bling if you are a vehicle).  It’s complete with wooden benches lined with leather seats and a rather extensive snack bar.  We were greeted by guava and coconut (most likely.  It sounded like birds screaming CA-CA-NA) sellers and then hopped on the bus.

The bus ride was fairly eventful in of itself, with lots of tropical foliage including trees that seemed like they belonged in Africa.

Apparently it’s called a guanacaste tree and it’s the national tree of Costa Rica.

We also had to cross some very tiny bridges.  So tiny that all I could see outside of the bus was water, no actual road.  Props to Michi, our bus driver, of whom it was also his birthday (grammar anyone?) for getting us through that.

This was the last school of the week and it was similar to Puntarenas in that it too was open air.  We ate lunch first with tamarino juice.  I have never had a tamarind but if it is anything like the juice, I strongly recommend it.

We did not have a conducting master class here so instead we decided to have a mini concert with the kids.  Each section would teach their students a piece and then we would all get together and play it.

Okay I know I’ve been talking for ages but in Cóbano, there was a very notable, very talented bassoon player.  She looked about 12 and had been playing for only one year, but was very quick to learn and could play well in tune.  She told me she does not have a teacher but does everything by ear.  I had actually taught her at Puntarenas on the flute.  I told her that if I were her, I would stick to the bassoon.  Todo el mundo toca la flauta.

Ahora ya está.  I think it will be worth my time to go into a few other topics more in detail at a later point.